The short documentary initiative also adds IDFA as a festival partner.

GE and Cinelan’s Focus Forward documentary project, which kicks off an 18-month run here at TIFF, has now struck an exclusive partnership with Vimeo to power the multi-platform distribution of the initiative.

Cinelan has also announced a multi-year partnership with IDFA, the world’s largest documentary film festival.

Filmmakers including Joe Berlinger, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Jessica Yu, and Morgan Spurlock are participating in the project, which makes three-minute documentaries about ideas and invention.

Yu said that her film would be about a man nicknamed Mr Toilet, who organizes a sanitation conference in Singapore and tries to convine the developing world that they need proper sanitation systems. Other films will include one about a surgeon creating a new kind of artificial heart.

Most of the filmmakers have been selected for this round, but Cinelan is still taking on board a few more international directors.

Each of the 30 three-minute films will premiere at a global film festival, starting with the first three to screen at Sundance 2012 and later in Berlin and Tribeca among many other festivals. Later this year, Focus Forward will be involved at festivals include Doha and IDFA.

Each film is about “innovation and ideas that change the world,” Cinelan’s Karol Martesko-Fenster explained at a briefing in Toronto this morning.

He noted that GE’s involvement didn’t signal branded entertainment. “GE is very brave allowing complete creative freedome for the filmmakers.”

Spurlock said yesterday: “We’re lucky to get so many filmmakers engaged with this idea. We think they’ll make a difference.”

Jeremy Boxer of Vimeo said: “We thought our creative community would get behind this. We think it’s going to be a great partnership.”

Filmmakers retain the rights to their films, which are licensed to Cinelan. There may be a chance to monetise the films as an omnibus project at the end of the initiative, and Martesko-Fenster said that if there were profits at any point, those would be going to the filmmakers.